Bright lights? Not yet…

 

Time – what a deceitful friend you’ve been! At a glance you provide a horizon filled with endless hope. In reality you march along frenetically expecting me to keep up. 

Since my last piece I have packed up one home in one state and unpacked into another home 300km away. I turned 41, found more wrinkles and stopped counting the greys. I travelled across the world, experienced my childhood dream and lost a tooth. A lot has happened and in September last year, I thought about it all (except the lost tooth – that was unexpected) and it all seemed so far into the distant future – it all seemed easily achievable. Once again, Time was waiting around the proverbial corner ready to pounce…

 

And pounce it did! The move, the overseas trip, buying new school uniforms and learning to drive like a NYC cab driver all happened at lightning speed – in keeping with the reputation that precedes this charming city. Now I am here in beautiful, insanely paced Sydney and I am starting to feel the pulse more each day – I hear it in the blaring exhausts of V8 supercars pretending to race through standstill traffic, I feel it in the heartbeats of the children as they approach each school day with excitement and trepidation, I smell it in the thick coastal air that pushes its way into our lives as we try to keep cool. The memories of living in a big city came flooding back and I realised just how much I love it and missed it.

 

 Ironically, my life is flowing along at a gentle pace and it seems like I was a much busier bee in quiet Canberra.

 

Its early days – I am spreading my wings carefully in the pursuit of finding like-minded company. One positive outcome of having quiet personal time is that there are no excuses not to write or exercise (or clean!). I am feeling quite virtuous about it all as I share my thoughts – expression in any form is always so cathartic and afterwards everything seems healthy and balanced again. There is so much to explore and experience in a city like Sydney that it seems almost impossible to cover it all in one lifetime. There is something for everyone here from sophisticated theatre goers to coffee-making hipsters (we all love them) and I probably fit somewhere in between. The view of the water as we drive to school every morning somehow sets the tone for me – naturally calming as I weave through the cars. It feels as though I am living against the core rhythm of the city for now and I prefer it this way. My personal pace is easing me into the vast change of lifestyle that I am facing and I know that when that pace changes, I will be ready to embrace it.

 

 Soon my task of assisting the family to “settle in” will be over and hopefully by that time I would have found my spot in this city that is bursting with opportunities. Until then, I will savour my space and try to maintain my balance both mentally and physically – with the aid of my beautiful family of course!

 

 

 

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Farewell to the magpies…

A few days ago we had the privilege of hosting a very special group of friends for morning tea. It was the first of a round of farewell invitations to those who have touched our lives in the country’s capital since our arrival just over 3 years ago. As new immigrants the lonely moments far exceeded the sociable ones until we were exposed to people who gave a damn – about us, our story and the world at large. And this group sits at the pinnacle of those who live their own truths and spread the feeling of contentment. So many pennies have dropped for us over the last two and a half years of court side chit-chat with our Sunday morning tennis friends. 

The most senior member is some 50 years older than us – but with his wily technique and calm court presence manages to walk away victorious from almost every match. It has definitely taught us a thing a two about walking on court with our fancy gear, hands, knees and elbows strapped (due to injury) and, most of all, complaining. Now we play through the pain and limp in private! 
More than advancing our tennis prowess (a term that sounds good but far exceeds the truth), our friends have forced us to question so many aspects of modern living that seem to consume us. Maybe the reason behind their ‘enlightened’ existence is because many of them are retired and enjoy the privilege of time to mull over life. Whatever the reason, it forces us to ask ourselves some very pertinent questions about our own lives – about simple living, needs versus wants, appreciating the birds and knowing the scientific names of ferns! My point is that we feel so out of our depth when in this company – their combined knowledge extends from 17th century Indonesia, to the European river cruises they’ve enjoyed (including naming the myriad of castles that were visited!) to growing ferns and knowing the mating pattern of magpies. I mean people in our other circles just don’t speak about these things and most, like us, don’t even have the knowledge. I can provide the excuse that the world has moved on and progressed into conversations about the latest Apple software update and where the most lucrative property investments are but this excuse is not good enough. The children of our older tennis friends share their parents’ passions – be it history or rain forests. One of the children is only 16 and the most impressive, intelligent and mature 16 year old we know. Two others have worked for not-for-profit organizations saving rain forests and attracting foreign investment into developing, poverty stricken countries. I mean really! How do you compete with that? It’s almost embarrassing to admit just how driven we are by earning power and material possessions. The most important observation for us is just how happy these families are. All have growing kids with the same challenges and aspirations as ours. Not to say that we are unhappy but it begs the question, could our lives be lived differently allowing time for us to enjoy the simpler pleasures? Our current lifestyle is all about chasing time and even as a homemaker, I cannot get through my days without a diary.
This brings me to the next question – what are we teaching our children? The weekly exposure to this older generation that our children have had has somewhat made up for not having grandparents nearby. It has taught them how to interact with people who are older and wiser. It has taught them about respect and appreciation and, to their advantage, has provided human encyclopedia for them to refer to for school projects. But what about the 6 days of the week when all they have is us – influencing them with every decision or discussion that we have. Is it too late to reel them in and show them the other side of life? The side void of iOS 10 updates and Converse shoes?
Many in this bantering bunch of intellectuals are actually erudite professors and experts in their field. Most have made significant contributions towards the Federal Government’s stance on environmental and educational issues and continue to do so with the pride and stubbornness that one would expect. The mere change in conversation for that one day a week is enough to make a mark on us for the rest of our lives. The exposure and thinking that these friends have enlightened us with will never be forgotten but, more importantly, the people will be remembered by this little immigrant family forever. As we prepare to leave this beautiful country city later on this year, we take deep breaths whilst swallowing the lumps in our throats. Friends like these are once-in-a-lifetime blessings. 

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Doh oh dear! – a mother’s song…

I remember the day that my older sister excitedly handed over a mini-band set (tambourine and all) to my 2 year old. I remember looking at her and thinking, “I’ll get you back!” Little did I know then that the day marked the beginning of my son’s love for all things musical and now, 8 years later, that same band set still lives on in his room.

As parents we have our pre-conceived (new age parenting) ideas around music and the benefits of exposing a child to classical music, in particular, from conception. I did and I am sure that many of you did too. Whether it was the ‘Mozart for Babies’ or The Cranberries’that did the trick, I am still unsure, but I now have two beautifully talented musicians in the making and I could not be happier.
Music has certainly taken on a more sophisticated place in society when it comes to children. Gone are the days when bringing home the rotating school recorder was considered a major privilege (only the few students who showed any musical promise were loaned one – germs and all). The look on our mother’s face when we started to practice was priceless and my sister played the thing until the end of high school! This level of endurance surely requires nerves of steel from even the most patient of mothers. The month of June (2016) has proven to be a whopper for our little maestro. He started off by winning a guitar at school (awarded to a student who shows promise and commitment to their instrument). I mentioned earlier that this business is getting serious! Then he scored an A+ in his guitar exam and earned himself an electric guitar from my DH. My nerves of steel are sounding a bit creaky and need some WD40 but I endure for the child’s sake.

On the other hand we have our oldest child who is lip syncing on apps and pouting her lips like Steven Tyler at 10 years old. Seriously. She reluctantly attends choir practice because it takes away a lunch break from her week but sings like an angel. Even the current chart toppers with lyrics that she’s not allowed to say out aloud yet sound beautiful when she sings them. We have to bind her to the piano with ankle cuffs to be entertained by her jazzy style (and tear her away from the GarageBand).

At the end of the day, both children love music in their own peculiar way and I should be grateful for that. Practicing, sitting for exams and ear plugs are just part of the journey. In fact, I felt so inspired by my children at the beginning of this year that I signed up to learn to play the piano at 40 years of age! Brave? Maybe. But my two deer making music is my drop of golden sun.

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Patience is a virtue and it tells on the hips…

img_0679-2It always fascinates me how much consumption occurs in a waiting room with free beverages. My bladder is bursting but I will squeeze in that delicious, machine-made hot chocolate – not because I’m hungry or thirsty but because it’s staring me in the face and, of course, it’s free. I have already had 2 cups of coffee this morning, a litre of water and now a mini hot chocolate. It’s only 10:30am and I am waiting inside a automobile testing centre that stinks of rubber but, the hot chocolate is delicious and I have access to free WiFi – life is good. Now I need to log all these drinks into my electronic food diary because my hips don’t lie….these beverage machines are evil!

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Fly away Mum! 

Today I decided to be the quintessential supportive mother and joined my daughter on her 3km cross country “run”. Neither one of us boasts any form of athleticism so I assumed (#fail 1 – never assume) that if we joined forces today, we could conquer our stereotype. She seemed excited when I announced that I will be there with her every step of the way (#fail 2 – always ask first). Then I saw her face when she heard me, the only parent on the track, jogging along and calling her name with enthusiasm every few minutes.

For the first time in 10 years I felt it today – my child was embarrassed to have me around. Maybe I’ve been in denial for a few months now? Maybe she’s just too polite to say anything (I did teach her to be polite after all). It’s a strange realisation for an involved parent but at least I have one more child who might still need me around for a few more weeks. I have heard that boys feel more strongly about letting go of the apron strings than girls do – and by this I mean that they prefer to let them go sooner.

Today, all I heard in my head was, ‘Fly away Mum! But don’t forget to fetch me at 3pm, take me to tennis afterwards and have dinner ready before I get back because I will be starving!”.

Interesting times aren’t they?

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White sands, brown toes and a melting pot

Have you ever been on a ‘getaway’ and never wanted it to end? Of course you have – we all have. As the last night on the lumpy mattress draws closer, I keep thinking that its yesterday. Or maybe I am hoping that it is….

It’s quite amazing how time away from routine and familiarity forces the mind out of its comfort zones of shopping, homework, swimming lessons and what to cook for dinner to thoughts around oceans, forests, sea air (if that’s your choice of getaway) and, more and more, retirement. The Magic M’s have just spent a week away on the south coast of New South Wales – a first venture into the region for us and definitely not the last. Just the sound of the wavelets lapping up against the shoreline draws the shoulders down and forces out a relieving sigh. The children instantaneously go beserk as does Mr M. I am still perplexed by this sudden change in behaviour – it’s hard to imagine that this father and son don the daily tie and jacket back home, one heading off to be educated whilst the other trying to make the world a better place and earning a buck at the same time. Little Miss Madness scrambles about asking if there’s internet (sigh!) and, as expected, sinks into a pout when she learns that there’s none (well there is connectivity but we choose to hold back that information as long as possible). 

The hours spent on the warm, white sand (the whitest in the world) allowed me to think freely while the M brood frolicked happily in the perfect ocean and my toes turned a golden brown. As you may already know, the birthday is imminent and a bit of self reflection beckoned. My first thoughts were around the need to write another installment of my personal reflections for those of you who are remotely interested. And here I am, inspired by my view of the gorgeous Tasman Sea and a very content family. Drifting away from putting my thoughts on paper, I wandered off into the future. We visited the Booderee National Park whilst here and realized that it is the only National Park that is owned and inhabited by the local Aborginal people. It is impressively maintained and protected by the Australian government but it got me thinking about the future generations of indigenous people of any country, the preservation of a particular culture and how relevant will all this be for our children who are growing up as global citizens? 

If one walks through any major city in the world, it is not surprising to see the intermingling of people from all corners of the earth. Being South African, the interracial mingling was something very new and novel well into the early 2000’s. An interracial couple still manages to turn a few heads depending on where in the country you are but the acceptance of the original Rainbow Nation is something that even the USA can learn a lesson from. My seaside thinking goes beyond this, however. After observing how the photograph of society has changed just from being connected to social media over the last few years, has made me realize that in time to come (and I am referring to the next generation)the world will become a melting pot and in my hopeful mind, a pot of gold. 

Not long ago, I shared a conversation with a young multi-cultural couple, each of whom had their own views on contentious issues like preaching a particular religion to children etc. That conversation got the wheels turning in my mind about what the future may hold for our children. Due to my upbringing, I gently steer my children toward the beliefs that Mr M and I were raised with. The intensity of worship varies somewhat from their grandparents’ but the sense of belonging to a faith still remains. Now, I have no expectations that either one of our progeny will marry within the family culture or faith – in fact, they probably won’t. Our daughter is a Doc Martin- wearing hipster and our son already displays a preference for olive skinned, blue eyed, curvy creatures! I know what you’re thinking and trust me I had nothing to do with it. One only needs to watch the daily news to realise that this notion of a melting pot of culture is probably not such a pipeline dream after all. I am certain that I am not the only Gen Y parent who hopes for peace in the world for our children to live in. 

I love my South African identity, Indian heritage and I am quickly growing to love my adopted Australian home. I am fast becoming the global citizen that I hope my children will identify with one day. The world is ironically a massive expanse of land and water but tiny in the virtual sense. The gentle tempering to achieve the beautiful gloss of salted caramel or rich chocolate won’t take long to perfect and maybe then, the evening news will be coloured  with azure beaches and the whitest sand all over the world. 

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Winter falls

The mood is cold.

With ebbs and flows of emotional bursts,

Those closest seem to shiver.

Frost bites from dawn to dusk both inside and out,

Leaving marks of silence and cold shoulders.

As the grass turns brown and the roses droop,

The fire burns inside igniting the tempers and fueling the flames.

I wait for the healing that time will bring,

 To welcome back the energy of the sun.

Winter falls mercilessly and all one hears are whispers of prayers 

And the songs of children begging for warmth.

Fly Winter fly!

The joy of spring is waiting to bloom,

To germinate and bring hope and life.

A time when smiles return and songbirds fill the air with laughter.

I close my eyes and imagine…

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